20 Most Essential Jonathan Demme Movies

From serial-killer thrillers to 'Stop Making Sense,' mob comedies to a feature-length monologue – the Demme films you need to see ASAP

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'Last Embrace' (1979)

Long before he'd put Clarice Starling through her paces, Demme tried his hand at a Hitchcockian thriller involving [deep breath] Roy Scheider, Christopher Walken, a femme fatale, government agents, the American Museum of Natural History, a white-slavery ring and a do-or-die vendetta that does not end well. He'd already proven he could do exploitation thrills and character-study spills – this is where Demme demonstrated he could do chills as well, a skill set that would come in handy a dozen years later. The ending in particular, involving a chase through Niagara Falls, suggested there was more to this filmmaker than met the eye. DF

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